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 Tips for the Female Equestrian
 The basic successful equation:
Aligned female body biomechanics for balance, strength and flexibility +
Correct Saddle Fit for the female equestrian + Uphill well-balanced horse for self-carriage =
Comfortable, safe, happy riding performance.
 Providing education and awareness for female athletes in leisure,
performance and sport horse riding activities.
1
WOMEN & HORSESTM 2020
FROM MARY MIDKIFF
EQUINECONSULTANT,FOUNDERWOMEN & HORSES, AUTHOR,CLINICIAN
Through my lifelong experiences with horses and horse people,
and my Women & Horses™ programs all over the world,
I have become certain of one thing:
Women have a special magic with horses.
2
WOMEN AND HORSES ARE BOTH SOCIAL ANIMALS.
THERE IS A NATURAL AFFINITY BETWEEN WOMEN AND HORSES;
AN IMMEDIATE FOUNDATION FOR A RELATIONSHIP.
3
4
U.S. Female Participation in the
U.S. Horse Industry
Overall 69%
English 88%
Western 60%
Trail 70%
All Youth 94%
MY FIRST BOOK WAS PUBLISHED IN 1996. IT REMAINS THE DEFINITIVE
GUIDE FOR GIRLS AND WOMEN WHO RIDE HORSES.
5
I RELEASED THIS BOOK IN 2002 FOCUSED ON OUR EMOTIONAL, SPIRITUAL AND INTUITIVE GIFTS
WHICH UNITE US WITH HORSES.
6
Portuguese
Chinese
Swedish
Dutch
German
English
•United Kingdom
•Australia
•North America
 We have a deep natural intuition
 We naturally nurture, protect and teach
 We speak and understand language without words
 Our voice can be inviting and sweet to the horse
 Our touch feels like a mother’s approval
7
 Women are constantly searching for meaningful
communication
 Women have a calming effect
 We choose sensitivity and partnership over force
and dominance
8
 Our relationship with horses is one of our most cherished.
 They feel the positive and loving energy coming from us.
 We seek a connection.
9
10
Horses are receptive when you are
connected and honored to be with them.
11
Your actions, how you are “being” with a horse, the way you do things,
what’s going on inside of you are much more important than the words
you use.
 Horses give us the promise and reality of unconditional love.
 They give and expect little in return.
 They can be like big, cuddly teddy bears who also happen to be able to run like the w
So warm…. So Fun!!!
12
 The rewards can make
your day and relieve stress.
 They thank us for good
treatment and care.
 They trust us, depend on us,
relax with us.
13
All of this plus the sheer joy of riding, exercise, fresh air and interaction
with other women who share the interest.
14
WOMEN & HORSES™
FORMULA FOR SUCCESSFUL HORSE PARTNERSHIPS
Three ingredients for a successful women and horses partnership:
1. Position and Support for Female Rider
2. Saddle Fit for Rider and Horse
3. The Horse for Female Riders
+ Saddle +
15
WOMEN & HORSES™
FORMULA FOR SUCCESSFUL HORSE PARTNERSHIPS
+ Female Friendly Saddle +
Correct Horse Partner
= Happy Partnership
16
1. Position and Support for the Female Rider
 Know your body tendencies
 Know when you are in and out of balance
 Know when your body is in and out of alignment
17
Slumped
Compressed
Neck, Rounded
Upper Back
Arched
Compressed
Lower back
Correct Alignment
2. Saddle Fit for Rider and Horse
18
This is how it can work for women to ride!!!
SADDLE CHOICES
QUICK HISTORY
IN THE PAST, THE MAJORITY OF SADDLES WERE BUILT FOR MEN USING HORSES FOR WORK AND WAR. THERE
WERE ALSO FEMALE SADDLES MADE JUST FOR WOMEN TYPICALLY WITH A HIGH CANTLE AND DEEP SEAT IN
BOTH ASTRIDE AND SIDE SADDLE.
AT THE BEGINNING OF WORLD WAR I FEMALE SADDLE PRODUCTION DIMINISHED AND CAVALRY AND RANCH
SADDLES WERE MASS PRODUCED.
IN THE 1950S, HORSES WERE NO LONGER USED FOR WAR AND USED LESS AND LESS FOR WORK. WOMEN
GAINED THEIR INDEPENDENCE THROUGH BIRTH CONTROL AND BEGAN MAKING CHOICES IN THEIR LEISURE AND
SPORT ACTIVITIES WITH HORSES. AND BREEDERS RECOGNIZED THEY NEEDED TO PRODUCE HORSES FOR SPORT,
RECREATION AND PLEASURE.
TODAY OVER 80% OF ALL HORSE PARTICIPANTS ARE FEMALE AND YET THE TRADITIONAL SADDLE TREES ARE THE
PREDOMINANT CHOICE UNLESS YOU BUY A CUSTOM SADDLE.
19
THIS IS NOT A FEMALE FRIENDLY
SADDLE. DO YOU KNOW WHY?
20
21
This is a traditional english saddle tree, the basis for most english saddles on the
market today. The same issues follow with western saddle trees.
1. Stirrup bars set too far forward affects the angle of the hip joint for women. The
“chair seat” leg position takes the female pelvis out of balance. If she tried to
stand in this position she would topple over or backward.
2. Rise from seat to pommel does not allow space for a woman’s crotch area to
move freely. With this saddle she will always have friction and the desire to
move her body to avoid the friction which takes her out of balance.
3. The seat area slopes off too quickly to support the seat bones and provide the
hip joint and pelvis to remain in neutral position, essential for balance.
1
2
3
Knowledge of saddles and saddle trees that will support your body type in
motion with effectiveness, safety and comfort; And fit the horse too.
22
23
When you sit in a saddle with a tree made for the female body (female-friendly) it
will automatically put you into an aligned balanced position. This is a Synergist
Saddle which does the job perfectly. (The barn dog had to get into this picture!!)
24
And when you sit in a balanced saddle it
can help you identify and indicate where
you need some correction.
The horse may have been telling you this
through his or her behavior, injuries, ways
of going. Now you can make corrections
to yourself with help from exercises and
Pilates which focus on your equal
alignment. A full length mirror will help
you with this as well as a good friend.
Your horse will be glad you did!
Notice this rider sits slightly off to the right.
Her mind is telling her she is sitting equally
on each side and straight. We get into
compensating patterns which our mind
believes is “normal”.
25
Synergist DSS
Dressage
Synergist DSS
Trail
Synergist Western
Trail with Western Rigging
Synergist
Lightweight
Endurance
Four female friendly saddles
custom made for you and your horse
By Synergist Saddles
There are numerous companies offering female specific saddles mainly made on a custom order basis. I’ve found Synergist to be one of
the best: makes the saddle specific to you and your horse’s needs; reasonably priced; quality leather and fittings; and you are supporting a
mom/pop shop that have been in the saddle making business as well as riding horses for many decades. Thank you CJ and Dave!!
www.synergistsaddles.com
26
Rider without
alignment
+ Saddle pitching rider
forward
+ Horse low in front =
• No partnership
• Poor performance
• Injuries
*This is me by the way
back in the 80s!! No
wonder I had to work
so hard!!
It doesn’t have to be so hard!!
27
• Rider aligned for motion
• Saddle supportive
• Horse supportive
• The Women & Horses
Formula for Partnership
Success
3. The Horse:
 Horse conformation level and uphill
 Horse comfortable and reliable
 Horse well balanced and athletic
 Horse willing to work with and listen to rider
28
Horse types that are difficult for most women.
Downhill:
 Pitches rider forward
 Horse becomes lame on
front end
29
Level is workable.
Level horses are usually pretty well
balanced however they still can be…
Heavy to lift in front
Jarring motion in the back
of human and horse
30
Horse types that are difficult for most women.
 Heavy
 Long backed
 Long neck
 Uncomfortable motion to follow
These types are beautiful to watch but
for many very challenging and hard on
the body over time. Lots of work!!
31
WOMEN & HORSES™
EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM
32
Two beautifully conformed individuals designed for the female rider.
•Overall proportionately equal
•Hind end to neck is uphill through the body
•Legs are squarely placed in each “corner” of the horse
•Neck shows flexibility and proper length for horse’s self-carriage
Women compensate when
one, two or all three
ingredients of the
W&H formula
doesn’t work.
Slumping down or
arching the lower back.
Both ways put her out of balance.
33
If the female rider is not
properly prepared with
position, saddle and horse
she will easily fall off.
34
When the female rider is
set up for partnership
success, she
(and the horse) can
quickly recover from
unexpected incidents.
35
Talk to Mary about what horse is the best for you!
 Well balanced
 Uphill
 Athletic
 Comfortable
 Reliable
 Willing
Thank you to AEI Stables in Brazil for allowing
me to ride their beautiful champion Mangalarga
Paulista mare!!!
36
Women & Horses™ Partnership =
Aligned rider, supportive saddle, balanced horse
37
Happy Horse and Happy Rider!
That’s what’s behind the magic!
38
Contact Mary Midkiff
mmidkiff@womenandhorses.com
www.womenandhorses.com
502.552.1195
39

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Women & Horses 2020 Tips by Mary D Midkiff

  • 1.  Tips for the Female Equestrian  The basic successful equation: Aligned female body biomechanics for balance, strength and flexibility + Correct Saddle Fit for the female equestrian + Uphill well-balanced horse for self-carriage = Comfortable, safe, happy riding performance.  Providing education and awareness for female athletes in leisure, performance and sport horse riding activities. 1 WOMEN & HORSESTM 2020 FROM MARY MIDKIFF EQUINECONSULTANT,FOUNDERWOMEN & HORSES, AUTHOR,CLINICIAN
  • 2. Through my lifelong experiences with horses and horse people, and my Women & Horses™ programs all over the world, I have become certain of one thing: Women have a special magic with horses. 2
  • 3. WOMEN AND HORSES ARE BOTH SOCIAL ANIMALS. THERE IS A NATURAL AFFINITY BETWEEN WOMEN AND HORSES; AN IMMEDIATE FOUNDATION FOR A RELATIONSHIP. 3
  • 4. 4 U.S. Female Participation in the U.S. Horse Industry Overall 69% English 88% Western 60% Trail 70% All Youth 94%
  • 5. MY FIRST BOOK WAS PUBLISHED IN 1996. IT REMAINS THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE FOR GIRLS AND WOMEN WHO RIDE HORSES. 5
  • 6. I RELEASED THIS BOOK IN 2002 FOCUSED ON OUR EMOTIONAL, SPIRITUAL AND INTUITIVE GIFTS WHICH UNITE US WITH HORSES. 6 Portuguese Chinese Swedish Dutch German English •United Kingdom •Australia •North America
  • 7.  We have a deep natural intuition  We naturally nurture, protect and teach  We speak and understand language without words  Our voice can be inviting and sweet to the horse  Our touch feels like a mother’s approval 7
  • 8.  Women are constantly searching for meaningful communication  Women have a calming effect  We choose sensitivity and partnership over force and dominance 8
  • 9.  Our relationship with horses is one of our most cherished.  They feel the positive and loving energy coming from us.  We seek a connection. 9
  • 10. 10 Horses are receptive when you are connected and honored to be with them.
  • 11. 11 Your actions, how you are “being” with a horse, the way you do things, what’s going on inside of you are much more important than the words you use.
  • 12.  Horses give us the promise and reality of unconditional love.  They give and expect little in return.  They can be like big, cuddly teddy bears who also happen to be able to run like the w So warm…. So Fun!!! 12
  • 13.  The rewards can make your day and relieve stress.  They thank us for good treatment and care.  They trust us, depend on us, relax with us. 13
  • 14. All of this plus the sheer joy of riding, exercise, fresh air and interaction with other women who share the interest. 14
  • 15. WOMEN & HORSES™ FORMULA FOR SUCCESSFUL HORSE PARTNERSHIPS Three ingredients for a successful women and horses partnership: 1. Position and Support for Female Rider 2. Saddle Fit for Rider and Horse 3. The Horse for Female Riders + Saddle + 15
  • 16. WOMEN & HORSES™ FORMULA FOR SUCCESSFUL HORSE PARTNERSHIPS + Female Friendly Saddle + Correct Horse Partner = Happy Partnership 16
  • 17. 1. Position and Support for the Female Rider  Know your body tendencies  Know when you are in and out of balance  Know when your body is in and out of alignment 17 Slumped Compressed Neck, Rounded Upper Back Arched Compressed Lower back Correct Alignment
  • 18. 2. Saddle Fit for Rider and Horse 18 This is how it can work for women to ride!!!
  • 19. SADDLE CHOICES QUICK HISTORY IN THE PAST, THE MAJORITY OF SADDLES WERE BUILT FOR MEN USING HORSES FOR WORK AND WAR. THERE WERE ALSO FEMALE SADDLES MADE JUST FOR WOMEN TYPICALLY WITH A HIGH CANTLE AND DEEP SEAT IN BOTH ASTRIDE AND SIDE SADDLE. AT THE BEGINNING OF WORLD WAR I FEMALE SADDLE PRODUCTION DIMINISHED AND CAVALRY AND RANCH SADDLES WERE MASS PRODUCED. IN THE 1950S, HORSES WERE NO LONGER USED FOR WAR AND USED LESS AND LESS FOR WORK. WOMEN GAINED THEIR INDEPENDENCE THROUGH BIRTH CONTROL AND BEGAN MAKING CHOICES IN THEIR LEISURE AND SPORT ACTIVITIES WITH HORSES. AND BREEDERS RECOGNIZED THEY NEEDED TO PRODUCE HORSES FOR SPORT, RECREATION AND PLEASURE. TODAY OVER 80% OF ALL HORSE PARTICIPANTS ARE FEMALE AND YET THE TRADITIONAL SADDLE TREES ARE THE PREDOMINANT CHOICE UNLESS YOU BUY A CUSTOM SADDLE. 19
  • 20. THIS IS NOT A FEMALE FRIENDLY SADDLE. DO YOU KNOW WHY? 20
  • 21. 21 This is a traditional english saddle tree, the basis for most english saddles on the market today. The same issues follow with western saddle trees. 1. Stirrup bars set too far forward affects the angle of the hip joint for women. The “chair seat” leg position takes the female pelvis out of balance. If she tried to stand in this position she would topple over or backward. 2. Rise from seat to pommel does not allow space for a woman’s crotch area to move freely. With this saddle she will always have friction and the desire to move her body to avoid the friction which takes her out of balance. 3. The seat area slopes off too quickly to support the seat bones and provide the hip joint and pelvis to remain in neutral position, essential for balance. 1 2 3
  • 22. Knowledge of saddles and saddle trees that will support your body type in motion with effectiveness, safety and comfort; And fit the horse too. 22
  • 23. 23 When you sit in a saddle with a tree made for the female body (female-friendly) it will automatically put you into an aligned balanced position. This is a Synergist Saddle which does the job perfectly. (The barn dog had to get into this picture!!)
  • 24. 24 And when you sit in a balanced saddle it can help you identify and indicate where you need some correction. The horse may have been telling you this through his or her behavior, injuries, ways of going. Now you can make corrections to yourself with help from exercises and Pilates which focus on your equal alignment. A full length mirror will help you with this as well as a good friend. Your horse will be glad you did! Notice this rider sits slightly off to the right. Her mind is telling her she is sitting equally on each side and straight. We get into compensating patterns which our mind believes is “normal”.
  • 25. 25 Synergist DSS Dressage Synergist DSS Trail Synergist Western Trail with Western Rigging Synergist Lightweight Endurance Four female friendly saddles custom made for you and your horse By Synergist Saddles There are numerous companies offering female specific saddles mainly made on a custom order basis. I’ve found Synergist to be one of the best: makes the saddle specific to you and your horse’s needs; reasonably priced; quality leather and fittings; and you are supporting a mom/pop shop that have been in the saddle making business as well as riding horses for many decades. Thank you CJ and Dave!! www.synergistsaddles.com
  • 26. 26 Rider without alignment + Saddle pitching rider forward + Horse low in front = • No partnership • Poor performance • Injuries *This is me by the way back in the 80s!! No wonder I had to work so hard!! It doesn’t have to be so hard!!
  • 27. 27 • Rider aligned for motion • Saddle supportive • Horse supportive • The Women & Horses Formula for Partnership Success
  • 28. 3. The Horse:  Horse conformation level and uphill  Horse comfortable and reliable  Horse well balanced and athletic  Horse willing to work with and listen to rider 28
  • 29. Horse types that are difficult for most women. Downhill:  Pitches rider forward  Horse becomes lame on front end 29
  • 30. Level is workable. Level horses are usually pretty well balanced however they still can be… Heavy to lift in front Jarring motion in the back of human and horse 30
  • 31. Horse types that are difficult for most women.  Heavy  Long backed  Long neck  Uncomfortable motion to follow These types are beautiful to watch but for many very challenging and hard on the body over time. Lots of work!! 31
  • 32. WOMEN & HORSES™ EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM 32 Two beautifully conformed individuals designed for the female rider. •Overall proportionately equal •Hind end to neck is uphill through the body •Legs are squarely placed in each “corner” of the horse •Neck shows flexibility and proper length for horse’s self-carriage
  • 33. Women compensate when one, two or all three ingredients of the W&H formula doesn’t work. Slumping down or arching the lower back. Both ways put her out of balance. 33
  • 34. If the female rider is not properly prepared with position, saddle and horse she will easily fall off. 34
  • 35. When the female rider is set up for partnership success, she (and the horse) can quickly recover from unexpected incidents. 35
  • 36. Talk to Mary about what horse is the best for you!  Well balanced  Uphill  Athletic  Comfortable  Reliable  Willing Thank you to AEI Stables in Brazil for allowing me to ride their beautiful champion Mangalarga Paulista mare!!! 36
  • 37. Women & Horses™ Partnership = Aligned rider, supportive saddle, balanced horse 37 Happy Horse and Happy Rider!
  • 38. That’s what’s behind the magic! 38